Bankhead: 'It's wearing on me'

AFTER A SUCCESSFUL year both on the field and in the classroom at Dixie State College in Utah, Keauntea Bankhead is back home in Seattle preparing to enroll next month at a local community college. The 6-0, 220-pound safety's plan remains the same: Enroll at WSU after he completes his associate's degree. But there's a catch. Now home and among family and friends, he's finding himself being pulled in a different direction.

A pitched battle looks to be taking shape between WSU and UW for one of the hardest- hitting safety prospects to ever come out of the state of Washington.

Cougar coach Bill Doba sat down with the former Parade All-American back in January and talked about his future at Washington State, settling on a roadmap that would see Bankhead redshirt in 2006 and arrive at WSU for the '07 season with three-to-play-three. Bankhead will begin taking classes at Seattle Central at the end of June.

Bankhead said that remains his plan, but it's become more tenuous than it was a couple months ago. Bankhead is seeing increased input from family and friends to reverse course and go to Washington -- the school he originally signed with before failing to meet NCAA academic requirements.

"I've talked to a couple friends that play for the UW and they want me to come play there," said Bankhead. "And every time I go to a family function now, all my family will be saying, 'Stay home.'

"It's wearing on me. It's wearing on me a little bit."

WSU DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR ROBB AKEY is the Cougars' point man with Bankhead, and he continues to stay in close contact with the young man.

"Wazzu, I talk to them the most," said Bankhead.

Washington's countered with linebackers coach Chris Tormey and, lately, overtures from Ty Willingham. The UW head coach and Bankhead had a falling out over his decision to attend junior college as opposed to continue to take the SAT, the latter being Willingham's preference.

"He doesn't know me personally. I got the impression he was calling me a quitter," Bankhead was quoted as saying in a Seattle PI article during the fallout. After some time went by, Willingham contacted Bankhead with an eye on mending the fences.

"We had some differences but we just squashed it," said Bankhead. "He just said he wanted to meet with me in person, face to face and man to man. He said he wanted to clear the air, clear the differences between me and him."

Bankhead said he might meet with Willingham in the next couple of months but that no date had been set as of yet.

HIS FRESHMAN SEASON at Dixie State, "Key" was second on the team in tackles and tackles for loss.

He racked up 66 tackles (43 solo) from his safety spot, 9.5 of which were tackles for loss, one quarterback sack, five pass interceptions, five pass breakups and three fumble recoveries, and also added another 427 return yards on kickoff and punt returns.

AT SEATTLE'S BALLARD HIGH his senior season, Bankhead was the consensus player of the year in Washington state and a Parade All-American. A sure tackler, disruptive presence and a constant threat to blitz, he was rated the No. 10 safety in the nation coming out of high school by

That senior campaign, Bankhead racked up 78.5 tackles, (66 solo) while recording 10 tackles for loss with five sacks. Offensively, he lit up scoreboards to the tune of 2,459 all-purpose yards and 27 TDs.

Keauntea Bankhead profile

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